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Purdue Boilermakers center Zach Edey (15) shoots over Rutgers Scarlet Knights center Clifford Omoruyi (11) during the first half, Sunday, Jan. 28, 2024 in Piscataway, N.J. (Andrew Mills/Tribune Content Agency)
Purdue Boilermakers center Zach Edey (15) shoots over Rutgers Scarlet Knights center Clifford Omoruyi (11) during the first half, Sunday, Jan. 28, 2024 in Piscataway, N.J. (Andrew Mills/Tribune Content Agency)

No. 1 Purdue overpowers No. 8 Utah State behind another dominant performance from Zach Edey

The Boilermakers eclipsed the 100-point mark in an impressive showing in the second round

INDIANAPOLIS — An early exit will not be in the cards for Purdue this year, as they advance to the Sweet Sixteen with a 106-67 win over Utah State. 

Zach Edey was truly special once again, making his presence known on offense and defense, finishing with 23 points and 14 rebounds. Purdue head coach Matt Painter said, “today was just our day” when speaking about how his team performed so well and his comments couldn’t be more true. Sunday was Purdue’s day, cementing the Boilermakers as one of the national championship frontrunners.

Utah State got things going early, scoring the first four points of the game and was up 24-23 with less than nine minutes remaining in the first half. This ignited the Aggie crowd and possibly showed that they could make this a ballgame. Ian Martinez was hitting shots left and right to start out the game, something that USU needed if it were to pull off the upset. 

“I kind of just need one shot to go in to start moving, to get hot,” Martinez said, describing this hot stretch, mentioning that it had happened before throughout the season. 

Purdue, though, went on a 16-0 run after Utah State grabbed the 24-23 lead, most of which was Edey’s dominance inside. He was using elite footwork and hook shots, two things that are almost unstoppable to defend when he does them well.

“He's just performed like he has here the last couple years,” Painter said. “Three years ago he was a good player for us. He caused problems. He did things, but it wasn't where he is now. He's just continued to get better.”

This sentiment has been proven true the last two rounds, as Edey continues to impress on the biggest stage. Edey has amassed 53 points and 35 rebounds in the first two games of the tournament, shooting 19-for-28 (68 percent) from the floor.

This run was stopped eventually, but the momentum continued, as the Purdue fans made it known how close this game was to West Lafayette. This one seemed like a Boilermaker home game, which obviously played a role in the momentum throughout the game. Braden Smith touched on this by saying, “the other team probably didn’t expect in March Madness to be playing a road game.” Both Purdue and Utah State felt the effects of the crowd, but the Boilermakers obviously got the benefit. 

Purdue went into the half leading 49-33, showing signs that this could end up being a blowout. Its shooting performance in the first period was not all that impressive, but Purdue assisted 12 times of its 17 made field goals, which is an incredibly impressive rate. Painter said that his team is successful “just when you share the basketball and pass the basketball and don't have predetermined thoughts and just take what the defense gives you,” explaining how critical passing is to his ballclub. 

Head coach Matt Painter of the Purdue Boilermakers reacts against the Wisconsin Badgers in the first half at Target Center in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament on Saturday, March 16, 2024, in Minneapolis. (David Berding/Getty Images/TNS)

As the second half went on, it got more and more obvious this would be a blowout in favor of Purdue, but Utah State kept playing together as a team. They showed why they were a tournament team to begin with and kept their composure.

“Tonight (we) just ran into a buzz saw,” Utah State head coach Danny Sprinkle said. “We knew they were really good. I think there's elite teams and there's special teams, and they can be special.”

Utah State should not hang their heads low because of a loss to the Boilers and that was Sprinkle’s point. 

Utah State had a very successful season which included winning the Mountain West outright, winning a tournament game against TCU and doing so many other things while returning exactly zero points from last year’s team. 

“What our team did this year was historic,” Sprinkle said. 

He mentioned how proud he was and just how much point guard Darius Brown II meant to this group. This shows how they’re not defined by one game, while all of the Aggies’ accomplishments perhaps make Purdue’s big win just that much more impressive. 

As for the box score, Utah State still had some guys who had solid performances. Great Osobor had 14 points and six rebounds, while Brown II had 12 points. Martinez had 11 points total after a hot start to the game, including two 3s. Josh Uduje had 13 and Mason Falslev had 10 as the final double figures guys for the Aggies. 

For Purdue, almost the entire team lit up the stat sheet. Edey’s 23 points and 14 rebounds were particularly impressive considering he was subbed off early because of the large lead. Trey Kaufman-Renn was also sensational, scoring 18 points and grabbing eight rebounds. Fletcher Loyer had 15 points and Lance Jones had nine, with both of them making 3s during Purdue’s large run that fired up the crowd. Camden Hiede and Myles Colvin had 10 and nine, respectively, as the Boilers’ highest point scorers off the bench. Smith only had five points, but his impact with controlling the ball was still felt, as he had six impressive assists. 

To wrap up, the Boilers got it done and in incredibly impressive fashion. They looked like an unstoppable force compared to a talented, great coached, outright Mountain West champion, as well as seeming like one of the national championship favorites so far in this tournament. While this win showed just how good Purdue is, they have their sights set on bigger and better goals. PU will get Gonzaga in the Sweet Sixteen, as they try to achieve their first national championship in school history and their first Final Four since 1980.

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